Screening change on right foot
NEWBORN babies could be tested for a range of new illnesses after a nationwide review of screening practices.
Days-old babies are currently screened for about 25 rare conditions, using a sample of blood from their heel.
But now the “heel prick test” is undergoing its own examination, with health officials debating how – and whether – other diseases should be included.
The list of treatable conditions screened for in Australian maternity hospitals has not changed in more than a decade.
The Newborn Bloodspot Screening Working Group began reviewing how illnesses were assessed for the screening program last year, and will report in mid-2016.
Selina Metternick-Jones, who will discuss the review at a genetics conference tomorrow, said the number of conditions babies were tested for would not necessarily increase, but one of the main aims was to ensure testing kept pace with technology.
The working group was originally formed after the Human Genetics Society of Australasia identified “an urgent need” for a more streamlined approach to evaluating potential new tests.